I may be biased, but I think Registered Dietitians are perfectly suited to write cookbooks. As experts in food and nutrition they can uniquely use cooking as a key to their clients eating better. In this interview with Maggie Davis, RD, we see that she was approached by a publisher about writing a cookbook after the success of her first book.
Is this your first cookbook?
Can you tell me how you were offered a contract for your book?
I was approached by the publisher of my first book (Your Whole Life, co-authored with Carol Showalter) to write a cookbook that would appeal to their audience. I had already worked with the Editor in chief of Paraclete Press and he said that he would like me to author a book specifically on Food and Nutrition which would be a part of their product line. My original co-author was initially a patient of mine as well as the Publicity Director of Paraclete Press.
Did you retain an agent?
No, I negotiated the contract myself.
What tips do you have for negotiating your own contract?
I think that I was really lucky dealing with my publisher directly and I would really encourage writers to seek the advice of an agent in this process.
Do aspiring cookbook authors who want a traditional publisher need a food blog?
I think it is an advantage to have a blog and/or a website or newsletter.
What is your advice for an aspiring cookbook author reading this interview that wants to pursue a publisher?
I am writing a proposal right now for another book dealing with weight management, and I will be hiring an agent to approach a larger publishing house.
Many people ask if cookbooks are dead, or dying, like other print books? Do you have any thoughts on this?
I think that the market for cookbooks is less than it was several years ago so I think that including e-book options in a contract is quite important. The format of the book should also lend itself to use on tablets, etc.
What was your biggest challenge in writing your cookbook?
For me the biggest challenge was to test the recipes, since I am a cook who seldom cooks the same dish twice. I usually include ideas for substitutions and variations so that the home cook would have options using the recipes as a base. I also had to provide all of the photos.
Any thoughts you’d like to share on the marketing and sales for your cookbook?
As an RD in private practice, I have always had to be a shameless self-promoter. I have had a website since 1997 and an e-newsletter since 2005. And I have done a lot of public speaking, radio and TV interviews over the years and these experiences and skills are vital to promoting a book. Speaking engagements often sell large numbers of books and the back of the room sales are a great supplement to the royalties. When patients walk into my office and see my book, this gives me added credibility. And I use the book like a business card in many networking situations.